Ex-Cook County worker admits he embezzled from flood relief grant

(CHICAGO) A former Cook County worker admitted Monday that he swindled cash out of a $10.3 million federal grant meant to help flood victims, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Barry Croall, 47, collected kickbacks after arranging for companies to overbill for their services in the wake of severe flooding in 2008. He pleaded guilty to embezzling Monday in front of U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood. The feds say he used the money he stole to buy a condo in Yorkville and to pay credit card bills and mortgages on properties owned by his company, Dove US.

The actual amount of money Croall stole could become an issue at his sentencing hearing, which is set for Feb. 24. Though he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, his sentence is more likely to fall between 24 and 30 months, if calculations by federal prosecutors are correct.

The feds accused Croall of stealing $330,000 from the program when he was indicted in 2014. The English immigrant worked as a program manager in Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which was in charge of implementing the grant.

The feds say Croall arranged for companies working on eligible homes to submit inflated invoices in 2010 to the nonprofit West Suburban Neighborhood Preservation Agency, which was reimbursed by Cook County before paying the companies.

Croall later went back and collected kickbacks from those companies.

Strategic Management Services boss Ronald Ford of Country Club Hills was also charged in the scheme and allegedly kicked at least $108,000 back to Croall. Ford is scheduled to enter his own guilty plea Wednesday.

— Chicago Sun-Times